Interrogative constructions are the linguistic forms by which questions are expressed. Their analysis is of great interest to linguists, as well as to computer scientists, human-computer interface designers, and philosophers. Interrogative constructions have played a central role in the development of modern syntactic theory. Nonetheless, to date most syntactic work has taken place quite separately from formal semantic and pragmatic work on interrogatives. Although there has by now been a significant amount of work on interrogatives across a variety of languages, there exist few syntactic and semantic treatments that provide a comprehensive account of a wide range of interrogative constructions and uses in a single language.
This book closes the gap in research on this subject. By developing the frameworks of Head Driven Phrase Structure Grammar and Situation Semantics, the authors provide an account that rigorously integrates syntactic, semantic, and contextual dimensions of interrogatives. The challenge of providing exhaustive coverage of the interrogative constructions of English, including various constructions that occur solely in dialogue interaction, leads to new insights about a variety of contentious theoretical issues. These include matters of semantic ontology, the quantificational status of wh-phrases, the semantic effect of wh-fronting, the status of constructions in grammatical theory, the integration of illocutionary information in the grammar, and the nature of ellipsis resolution in dialogue. The account is stated with sufficient rigor to enable fairly direct computational implementation.
Advance Praise for Interrogative Investigations
With its attention to both empirical and formal detail, its
integration of syntactic and semantic investigation, its theoretical
innovativeness, and its coverage of English grammar, this book is an
impressive achievement. It brings out the potential of HPSG as a
grammatical framework, and sets an inspiring standard for work in
—;Lars Hellan, professor in General
Linguistics at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU),
There is no lack of detailed syntactic studies of
questions. There is also no shortage of sophisticated semantic
analyses of interrogatives. But there are very few books that try to
bring the syntactic and the semantic analysis together. “Interrogative
Investigations” does precisely this. It covers a wide range of
interrogative constructions in English and at the same time provides
an innovative semantic analysis using a constraint based approach.
—Elisabet Engdahl, professor at Gothenburg University in
was Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University. (1949–2013)
was lecturer in the computer science department at
King's College, London and is now Professor, UFR Études
anglophones Université Paris-Diderot (Paris
List of corrigenda.
Read an excerpt from this book.